Coorg Trek on Sep 30-Oct 5

Friday, February 13, 2009
Day 1:

6:45 pm with excitement heavy in the air – Balaji was calling all participants and confirming their locations.. All gathered together near Tidel park after being stuck in traffic, meeting and greeting, getting introduced .. We divided ourselves into groups with enough drivers in each car to alternate driving. The Scorpio, 2 Ford Ikons, a Hyundai Verna, Honda Civic and a Chevrolet Aveo formed the cavalcade and we started driving out of Chennai. We had a very diverse team ranging from a school student to heads of businesses.

The drive was exciting, trying to keep in touch with the other cars. We stopped for dinner and had a quick bite and hit the road again. Before the pit stop for dinner, on the middle of the road we found the Black Icon and Civic holding a Maruti800 is just because they have to come to the left side of the road to park the vehicle, they were never allowing the M800 to go nor were they turning to the left and the people driving behind had fun. The Hyundai Verna had a 10 – 15 mts close follow with the Scorpio where Amal came and told us to maintain distance between the cars in afraid that Verna would kiss the Ass of Scorpio on any immediate breaking situations.

Our big man Partha on Aveo was our Alarm throughout that night drive, he always overtake and pops in between us and Scorpio, later we will find that he looses the distance in Km with Scorpion but still holding us behind. We would speedup to catch the Lead again and Partha repeated the same. The Civic had five people in the car and it was mostly kissing the speed breakers often, the people inside the Civic had to get down on most occasions to avoid such kisses. On the way, one of the cars met with an accident somewhere near Vellore. We were extremely lucky – nobody got hurt, but unfortunately, the car got hurt very badly. It was almost 3 am by the time we were able to start again. Communication had to be passed on to the Bangalore participants Arun and Sharad.

Day 2:

We hit Bangalore by about 6 am and started looking for a route to Mysore. Amal in the Scorpio along with Arun and Sharad got into a 4 X 4 friendly track, letting the other cars to move around the city and find the real (?) Mysore road. We managed to find it – by that time they had hit the breakfast place and sent out messages to all. After breakfast, the Scorpio led the way and sent messages to all others with the next stops and the route. We drove through Srirangapattanam, Hunsur and Virojepat to stop for a lunch break at Virojepat.

We had a real fun drive after we had a right turn from Srirangapatnam towards Hunsur. It was a single road but was amazing, driving us through villages, farms and bunches of trees on either side of the road. We took a group snap on the middle of the road and saw a tamed elephant on the road side where the whole group took photos and enjoyed the visual of the majestic master.

We drove through the beautiful scenery and quaint buildings and reached a guest house in Palace estates after lunch. We parked our cars and started the trek towards the Thadiyendamol peak. The climb had an easy incline, started with a proper road and moved through the coffee plantations. There was a single trail in most of the places and whenever there was a fork, someone waited for the people who followed. Amal played the 'last man' and ensured nobody was left behind. There were streams crossing the trail all through. The water was very tasty and we sipped it and refilled our bottles. It was a pleasant walk with people chatting all the way sharing past trek experiences. Rupaa had been having leech nightmares for about a week by then and she sensed the opportunity for her dreams to become reality soon. Nobody got bitten in this part of the trek.

We reached a flat area close to a stream and decided to camp there. Balaji was busy identifying the right spots and setting up the ready made tents.The strong hunters and gatherers marched on to find construction material – the wood cutting / breaking specialist Kannan was pressed into service to break stout branches off trees.. Chandru and Anand showed off their rock lifting skills and helped secure the tents. Camp fire lighting attempts started after setting up the tents with a few people holding up a tent cover to get it started. After several attempt to keep the fire going using Amal's blow skills and a few others' dry foliage gathering skills, the camp fire idea was given up and the venture was downgraded to the 'embers keeping enthusiasts warm' level. People gathered in groups in tents , some went to sleep. Some others kept chatting watching the stars with the smouldering smoke of the ex-camp-firer as a backdrop. The scene was reminiscent of portrayals of Ancient American Indian style civilizations – the passed around cigar was a missing element.. Finally everybody went into their assigned tents and went off to sleep.

Day 3:

The morning was beautiful – I wouldn’t attempt to describe the beauty of the sun's rays filtering through the mist in the valley and surrounding hills, you have to be there to experience it. All woke up and we started the trek towards the peak. Viki the photographer was all set with his camera displaying a desire to shoot a zillion pictures. There was a short forest area climb which was a bit steep, but the rest of it was a steady 20 to 30 degree incline. It felt great to reach the peak. We met a little snake up there and took some pictures. Leech bites had their initial occurrence and people were showing off their bite wounds proudly..

A group of enthusiasts (Peter, Amal, Balaji, Arun, Diwakar, Samyak, wanted to take a steeper descent and explore more before getting back. The others started climbing down and hit the tent area. Available breakfast (Biscuits and Theplas) was eaten and we walked down to the cars. The explorers reached the cars soon after easily as they were faster and had also abandoned the exploration quite soon after seeing that the terrain was similar all around.

We drove off towards the next destination – Iruppu falls – and stopped for lunch on the way. We were quite late – any climb to Iruppu falls was to be started before 3:30 pm but it was 3:30 pm even before we started lunch. We finished lunch, continued the drive towards Iruppu falls. The drive was so cool and the cars played music accompanying the chatting and teasing inside the cars. The roads were bumpy at certain places where the SUV (Scorpio) managed it just like that and the rest of the Sedans struggled with less speed. Amal seems to grow wings while he drives. Occasionally the Black Ikon never bothered about the bumps on the road and was flying, copying the track of Icon, we heard the sound of crackers under the Verna on the missed out bumps.

There was a hanging bridge on the way to the falls. The falls were part of a pilgrimage spot and were full of tourists. The trekkers enjoyed their time in the water. We got out by twilight and went searching for a place to stretch out for the night. The worker's quarters of a coffee plantation looked suitable and we parked our cars there after getting permission from the owner. The plantation workers made the hot water for cup noodles. Amal and Priyanka prepared it and passed it around. We ate it all up and crashed in our sleeping mats while the residents still warmed themselves up in the fire.

Day 4:

We woke up in the morning and started the trek towards the Brahmagiri peak through the falls route. We started spotting leeches all around and so the climb happened at a better than expected pace. The scenery was beautiful, with elephant tracks and fresh dung visible. Streams crossed our path frequently. We reached the waterfall at the higher levels of the hill and the group hit water. The climb continued and very soon luxuriant grass in a unique green color replaced the dense forest cover. Clich├ęd though it sounds, it always looked greener on the other side.

We climbed over the hill and hit the Narimala forest guest house. Part of the group went on to climb upto the peak but the others returned. Karthik and Swarup had to get back on the same day so they had to catch their buses. The hard code dare-devil trekkers Peter, Amal, Balaji, Diwakar, Kannan, Chandru, Gopi and a few others walked further towards the peak. It was about a 45 minute mild climb and then a 1 hour 70 degree climb. I am unable to get anymore information from the dare-devils so you the reader can let your imagination run riot.

The others who returned early were walking around in the area. The Brahmagiri peak conquerers returned and Balaji announced that we could drive away to Wayanad right away and camp there for the night – it was just about 80 km away from where we were. We started driving to God's own country in the night – the route was scenic and even the night drive was very pleasant with arching trees on both sides of the road. It was fun that every car tried to overtake the other throughout the drive. We stopped for a lovely dinner on the way and took off again to camp in some public school in the area. The Civic and the Aveo made their mark on the speedbreaker in the school gate. We settled in on our sleeping mats and within 5 minutes there was silence – the eeriness kept at bay by the effortless snoring of some.

Day 5:

We woke up in the morning drove for some more distance and had breakfast, and stopped at Meenmutti falls – a tourist destination. Very natural settings led to beautifully carved out falls. As it is located in a sparsely populated locality, it was difficult to judge the distance and the shortest path to the waterfall area but we were helped by a local guide. CTC-ians guided the tourists towards the waterfalls and tempted them with the excitement they would feel when they get there. Reaching the falls involved a steep descent – all the while we wondered about what the ascent to return was going to be like. Soon the trekkers got a glimpse of the spectacular falls that was about 50 meters high.

Within minutes people were inside the natural pool and reached the rocks to get wet.. The rocks near the waterfall in the Meenmutti falls was so slippery that number of people in our group has a fun slip near the water (it doesn’t hurt), the water in the pool was so cold that everybody felt that an underground refrigerator is running in the waterfall all 365 days. The story about the dedicated clothes washer Sudhakar reverberated around until we reached Chennai. The water currents were unpredictable and even strong swimmers had trouble reaching under the main fall – only Peter seemed to have been able to get there. The locals mentioned that nobody manages to get into water in the area – people just watch – ours was the only group that had so much fun out there. Needless to say, CTCians are open for challenges, but it was hard to believe that visitors missed getting into this natural pool excitement and we had to encourage tourists to get into the water to feel the pulse of excitement. After the cool splash in the water at Meenmutti, guys managed very slowly to climb up to the dressing point on the very slippery rocks, once they were up everybody found themselves very dirty and it never looked like they had a splash in the water. On the whole it was 100% filled with fun and happiness.

We started the climb back. Peter and Amal decided to explore the route to the top of the falls through the hills. Nandikesh followed them while the rest of us walked up and hit the rest area where the locals sold buttermilk. We met a couple of friends from Bangalore on a bike trip and chatted with them for a while. We moved up towards the cars and waited – and got some unfortunate news from Amal – Nandikesh had slipped and was hurt, Peter was waiting with him and a couple of strong guys were required to help carry him back. Kannan and Chandru went along. The rest of us worried and waited while suffering from the effects of the spicy buttermilk.

Nandikesh was lifted out and was put into Partha's car with a temporary sling made of a T-Shirt and we drove to the nearest hospital that had adequate facilities. At this point we decided to get back to Chennai. While he was getting treated, we had lunch and 2 cars left early. It was great to see a smiling Nandikesh after he got enough painkillers. We started our return journey towards Chennai – the route was lovely. We spotted a Bison on the way and got down to take some pictures. We kept driving – the entertainment inside the cars was quite good and kept us occupied. We stopped for dinner at Coffee day in Mysore and then started driving towards Chennai.

Day 6:

The spirit of adventure stayed with us all through the journey, searching for the route back and finally hitting home sweet home, all safe. Nandikesh was driven to the hospital by Partha and is recovering now.

A lovely road trip with trekking to spice up the days, excellent company and a great holiday ! Looking forward to the next one already – guys, pack your sleeping bags and mats and lets go !

Reflections from a ruminant participant:

Last but not the least, team coordination and excitement lasted till we reached Chennai and the spirit of joy reminded us to be alive every moment. The support and encouragement among ourselves in-spite of a few setbacks kept us going with enthusiasm. Life's challenges can shake you at your very core. It is our desire that helps us find comfort for our past, practical help for today, and lasting hope for your future.

Written by: Vinodha

Organized by: Balaji

Participants: Balaji Seshan, Vikram J, Partha, Diwakar, Nandikesh, Gokul K, Amal P, Anand Chanduri, Selva Pandian, Bala Murali Krishna, N Gopal, Karthik I, Ramesh S, Vinodha Jeyanthilal, Chandravel, Rupaa, Samyak Kaninde, Peter, Gopi Krishna, Priyanka Kumari, Ravi Chandran R, Kannan K, Udhay Shankar, Swaroop Bagrecha, Senthil Subramaniam, Sarath G, Arun Gowda, Sudhakar R, M Sateesh, Rakesh, Indar

Image galleries:
Anand Chanduri
Ara Raju
Vikram - Day 1 & 2, Day 3, Day 4
Partha Sarathy
Samyak - Thandiyandemol, BrahmaGiri Peak, MenMuttyFalls
Selva - Thadiyandmol, Brahmagiri, Wayanad
Amal P - Thadiyantemol, Bhrahmagiri
Gokul - 1, 2, 3
Bala Murali - 1, 2
Priyanka Kumar
Kannan K - 1, 2, 3



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